Path to the true Self - part one
Finally the time has arrived that I can commit once more to my blog. Apologies for the massive gap between posts but here’s what went down in that time (in a nutshell)…
I arrived in Bali mid-March and had challenging but groundbreaking meditation training with Mark Breadner. Soon after I discovered the malfunctioning of my practically new MacBook Pro. Since I had come to Bali predominantly to write I spent the good part of a day in tears and driving around Bali on the back of a scooter looking for someone who could fix it. I finally found someone who said, “Give me your computer and I’ll send it to Singapore”, to which I said, “No way Jose!” (not actual words spoken in real time). I then cried some more and sent it back with my fella to get fixed in Perth.
Shortly afterwards I lost Netflix on my phone. Many of you will relate to how devastating that can be! Only to drop and smash the screen a few days later so it wouldn’t have mattered if I did have it. My malas from India that were being sent for my upcoming retreat got stuck in customs and will never be seen again. I had a weird facial in an attempt to relax and half of my face broke out in a huge pimply highschool-type rash. Then finally, I turned to yoga as my salvation and practised long and hard every day. This resulted in an old shoulder injury flaring up, leaving me unable to sleep or dress myself without a lot of pain.
I had come to Bali for healing. Nobody said it was going to be easy. But you can’t blame me for hoping it would be easier than this.
It’s interesting that I say I came to Bali for healing because I didn’t even know what that meant when I arrived. I just knew I needed to do it. I felt that something wasn’t quite right around how I was moving through life in Sydney. Despite many areas of my life blossoming and expanding, something was anchoring me down which made all of it feel like a bit of a slog. Sometimes A LOT of a slog.
An old friend of mine would often say, “Aimee, you need to wear life like a loose garment”, which just sounds so divine. But often I felt like I was wearing life like an itchy polyester turtleneck. It was like I wanted to really fly, but I felt caged. And this cage was one that I had known since I was really small but I couldn't quite put my finger on what exactly the cage was.
Mamma Bali has a very powerful way of showing you what’s what. And she usually does so by… how can I put this gently… by fucking everything up. She was rattling my cage because there was still a cage to rattle. It’s like she was screaming, “See this cage! See this cage! It’s time for it to GO!” She was stripping everything back, removing all my comforts and identity-making activities in order for me to have a cold hard look at my self-created patterns of suffering.
It’s like Mick Jagger said...
That ol’ chestnut.
If you could see me right now you’d witness one hand typing and the other flipping the universe the bird.
Things came to a head when I went to Mark’s next training and found myself really really ill again. Illness has been following me around for years and I was hoping that part of my life was done with. But here it was again. The headaches, heart palpitations, brain fog and exhaustion. It was all there like a familiar but unwanted friend and plunged me into deep despair. I was really angry with my body. I felt I was doing everything right but was still being smashed. I was here in Bali, resting, meditating, doing yoga. I had removed myself from the trappings of living in a fast-paced and expensive city. I was choosing a different way of being. Why, for the love of all things holy, was I sick again???
Over the course of the training, the deep wisdoms inside started to bubble to the surface. With the support of powerful soul-stirring practices, my sangha (spiritual community), and teacher I was able to see that like any repetitive pattern that continues to suck big time, I still hadn’t learnt what it was trying to teach me.
The fact is, I’ve spent many years healing many wounds but I had skilfully side-stepped the very thing that was the driver of all of it. So no matter how much I patched myself up and kept on carrying on, and no matter where I moved in the world, or what incredible jewels of self understanding I gained, without addressing the driver of all my suffering, I would be doomed to repeat it.
What was the driver? (you might ask). I will tell you, but it’s not easy to share.
Ever since I can remember I have lived my life from what I felt others wanted me to be. For whatever reason I have always felt a pressure to be shiny, even when I felt anything but. My actions and movements in life have always had a tinge of pressure to be something, for someone else — whether a partner, teacher, community or parent. I placed pressure on myself to be bright and pushed myself very hard to maintain that brightness.
But that illness. It just kept pointing out my misalignment. It kept taking me into a place where there was no shine at all. There was just a realness and a rawness and a collapse that allowed/forced me to take off the pressure and let my system rest down. The illness was showing me that I’m actually ok and enough even when ill, depressed, angry, or tired. But because I wasn’t aware of what it was teaching me, as soon as I felt well again I started to apply the pressure so I could get to that comfortable shiny place again. Only to get sick once more.
I think this driver has remained hidden to me for so long because I truly LOVE what I do. I feel solidly down with my purpose and I couldn’t think of anything more delicious than learning and teaching yoga. Why wouldn’t I work really hard in that? But when it goes hand-in-hand with a self-enforced pressure to deliver, in every area of my life, eventually there will be a crash and burn. And the pressure comes from a tiny, hidden, deep deep down belief that still hums ever so softly in my psyche: that if I don’t get my worth reflected back to me in some way from the outside it’s difficult to believe that it exists.
And that, my friends, is what you call… the cage.
Often I share in class that I’m teaching what I need to learn and this blog is no exception. It’s not easy to share this because its not at all shiny. It’s deeply humbling. It basically owning that everything I speak about in class; wholeness, topping up from the inside, being-ness, and self love are things that I’m yet to embody fully. I’m still in that work. But if I want to be a vessel for change and growth in our world I feel that must be embedded in some radical honesty and a willingness to be open about my struggles with my human-ness. My desire for this sharing is also to support all beings out there who struggle with the same things because it’s healing to hear… I am with you, walking with you, crashing, burning, getting up again and walking… with you.
I also wanted to offer some hope. Since my breakthrough (which felt suspiciously like a breakdown) I have felt very free. I have felt empowered to start to really look at my life and ask, What do I want to create? For myself? How do I want to design my life? For ME? A really simple and powerful truth that we can so easily forget is that our life is ours to design and create as we wish to. And here’s the real kicker. Without the pressure and expectation and stories around who we think we should be, or what we feel we have to be for others, there’s a huge universe of other possibilities waiting to be explored.
So here’s a great question: what is it that drives your actions and goals in this life? And get super honest, because we all need to pause and examine our driver. Is there an imagined ideal that keeps you seeking and striving and therefore bound? Because that thing, that belief, that possible misperception or false idea is a big player in whatever is unfolding for you right now. So what IS that?
Lastly, you can also trust that this life, in all it’s epic beauty and intelligence, is on your side. It will lovingly take you by the hand, and sometimes smack you square across the face, to show you exactly what you need to see, in order to be free. And that, my friends, is when we can fly.
Yours in Yoga,